Updated: Jul 29, 2020
Mbappe celebrating with the World Cup after winning it in 2018. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
The Bigger Picture (Hyderabad) — “And Kylian Mbappe blazes a right-footed blast that leaves the goalkeeper completely rooted to the ground. What a shot from the teenager! The wonderkid scores from long range and the French now lead 4-1! They must be able to feel the trophy in their hands at this point!”
Commentator John Helm exclaimed these words of awe along with 1.12 billion people who watched as a young teenager shook the world of soccer with finesse and flair. Kylian Mbappe Lottin scored an absolutely outrageous goal in the final match of FIFA World Cup 2018, as France triumphed over Croatia to claim the World Cup. Throughout this campaign, Mbappe was not only instrumental in France’s tournament journey but also gave the world a glimpse at his passion and ability.
Kylian Mbappe was born on the 20th of December, 1998 in Bondy, France. With a budding and inherent talent for football, he played his first senior professional match at the modest age of 16 for the Ligue 1 Club of AS Monaco. Mbappe was promoted to the first team for his incredible dribbling and finishing ability and began his first-tier football career in 2015. Only in his third season, Monaco rose to ascendancy in the season of 2016/2017 as they won the prestigious Ligue 1, claiming the echelon after seventeen long years. With just 29 appearances, Mbappe scored a staggering fifteen goals and eleven assists, aiding the side’s voyage to victory and eminence.
Mbappe playing for his first club, AS Monaco, as a teenager. Image courtesy of Marca.
But it’s not the World Cup glory that brought Mbappe the limelight. Kylian has been eyed by scouts and clubs all over the world since his appearances in 2016 for his consistent displays of raw talent and potential, rivaling most players in world football. After having played an extremely positive season with AS Monaco at the age of 18, Mbappe was signed by Paris Saint-German on a loan for one season. The Les Parisiens were beyond impressed by his performances in the following season, as he bagged 21 goals and 16 assists. In an effort to secure his services and enhance overall team performances, PSG paid a record-breaking 145 million Euros plus around 35 million Euros in add-ons as a transfer fee for Mbappe. In the previous season of 2018/2019, Mbappe excelled on the pitch week in and week out, with sublime performances, consisting of dribbling expertise coupled with artistic finishing. PSG marched on to win the League and stood second in the domestic cup, the Coupe de France. A 19-year-old Mbappe became the League’s “Player of the Year” award, outshining more famous world-class players like Neymar Jr., Edinson Cavani, and Thiago Silva with an exceptional record of 33 goals and 9 assists.
Mbappe playing for PSG, his current team. Image courtesy of Planet Football.
Even amidst the particularly volatile markets of football, the demand for young talent has always been high, and has been at its pinnacle in recent years. Acknowledging the edge Mbappe brings to a side both on and off the pitch, clubs all around the world are digging deep into their pockets to facilitate the transfer of the wunderkind from France. Apart from his invaluable contributions on-pitch, Mbappe’s arrival to PSG resulted in a million shirt sales for the club in the year 2018. Mbappe is the face of Nike, the leading brand in sports apparel across various countries in Europe and has multiple endorsements and advertisements from FIFA, PSG and Air Jordan.
Mbappe in a Nike advertising campaign for the Jordan Brand x PSG collaboration, alongside fellow PSG men's and women's players Wang Shuang, Dani Alves, and Marie-Antoinette Katoto, the rapper Wale, amongst others. Image courtesy of Nike.
Pele, the 78-year-old legend of Football complimented Mbappe by saying “I ribbed him saying that he had almost equalled me. I think he can become the new Pele! A lot of people think I say that jokingly, but no, it's no joke." The Brazilian Maestro has expressed his admiration of Mbappe’s playing style on multiple occasions, which in itself is no small feat. Football pundits such as Zinedine Zidane, Pep Guardiola, and Arsene Wenger have praised and acclaimed Kylian Mbappe as the finest talent of his generation.
"I think he can become the new Pele! A lot of people think I say that jokingly, but no, it's no joke." - Pele
Albeit having won the Golden Boy (2017), the Ligue 1 Player (2019) and French Player of the Year (2018), Mbappe considers himself to be at the very beginning of his journey. In an interview with B/R football, Kylian said “This is only just the beginning, [Legacy] is something you see when you're at the end, trying to anticipate what's going to happen. There's a long way to go before I stop playing. I'm not thinking about my legacy yet." This goes to show that Mbappe envisages a future blessed with quality football and longevity of his career, and that he has been endowed with a rare trait -- humbleness. In an era heavily dominated by the finest players in the history of the sport like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe has managed to leave his mark on this generation of footballers and continues to inspire thousands with his passion and skill. Being the prodigious kid he is, Mbappe has certainly asserted himself as the next big name in soccer, and one cannot preclude the possibility that Mbappe may go down as one of the game’s greatest.